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Landlord refusing to release deposit from DPS


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My friend’s tenancy agreement ended at the end of June and she vacated the property, fulfilling all contractual obligations for professional cleaning and returning keys. The circa £800 deposit is held with the DPS and my friend has still not had any of it returned due to the landlord disputing £70.

 

After my friend moved out the landlord claimed costs for sending 2 x letters @ £25. Unreasonably these letters were sent on consecutive days. One regarding rent being 3 days late (the first time rent was ever late and it was paid within that week). The second letter was because the landlord had tried to enter the property to show a new tenant, without permission, and the keys were in the other side of the locked door, which prevented her entering.

 

The landlord also claims she needed to paint a coloured wall and was charging £20 for paint. The wall was this colour when the landlord purchased the property and painted by my friend with permission from the previous landlord.

 

As background, the landlord purchased the property with my friend as a tenant last year and has been very difficult. My friend was a good tenant and left the property in excellent condition. However problems escalated towards the end of the agreement when the landlord began entering the property without permission and refusing to leave, culminating in my friend calling the police. Since this time the landlord has become increasingly hostile and made numerous threats to charge for various things which really have no standing.

 

Due to this £70 dispute the landlord has refused to release any part of the undisputed deposit despite numerous requests over the last few weeks. The landlord refuses to enter into any dispute process using DPS and this is causing a lot of distress to my friend who is severely short of money and has a 1 year old daughter undergoing major surgery in the next couple of weeks.

 

What options are there now for my friend to get her deposit back?

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She has spoken to DPS and tried to begin the ADR but the LL is refusing to respond to it. The LL has emailed my friend saying she does not regard it worth her time to bother with the ADR for "such a small amount". This appears to mean that the entire deposit continues to be withheld indefinitely by the DPS.

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Then 'friend' should claim for return of full deposit in SCC. I am sure she would win, leaving LL to refund the Court fee.

Send LBA to LL first, giving 14 days to reply.

Remember to ask Judge to order DPS to release deposit.

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Many thanks for the responses. I believe DPS have now told her to pursue it through the SCC but I (naively) thought the DPS were there to avoid that hassle. It seems like there is a loophole which means a vindictive LL can cause the entire deposit to be withheld?

 

There is a clause in the contract stating that letters can be charged at £25 for each letter from the “Landlord’s Agent, acting reasonably”. I don’t think it is reasonable as she could have sent an email but instead sent two letters on consecutive days stating how she would be charging for each one.

 

I am hoping the obvious abuse of letters as a bullying tactic and the LL’s unwillingness to enter in ADR process would reflect pretty badly on the LL in court. In the meantime though my friend is out of pocket and struggling financially but this sounds like it could drag on for a while and there will be upfront court fees.

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RobS, APS ADR is the first step, to reduce time pressure on SCC. Some LLs feel that ADR tends to favour Ts and are permitted to go straight to SCC. It is still for LL to show proposed deductions are 'reasonable'. Both are arbitration & T has an equal right to go straight for SCC. LL may not be vindictive, just choosing what he perceives a best option. So no loophole.

The first £25 letter is reasonable IMO as due rent was 3+ days late and cost was previously notified.

As for 2nd letter, was T still in occupation when LL tried to conduct viewing? Did LL notify T at least 24 hrs prior?

LL had no right to enter to conduct a viewing, without resident Ts permission.

Yes there will be upfront fee for SCC, refundable when you win or friend may be eligible for a waiver of fee. Read SCC notes.

Legal options cost.

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Thanks for explaining. I feel the vindictive part is that the DPS said LL could at least release the undisputed amount. LL has already written to my friend saying the property was left in excellent condition and she agrees to return that part of the deposit, less £70, but she refuses to say this to the DPS so all the money is withheld.

 

Regarding the entry for a viewing - the LL had emailed the day before stating she wanted to view on the Monday bank holiday. My friend replied saying Monday would not be possible but Tuesday was fine. The LL ignored this and arrived on the Monday anyway and attempted to let herself in. My friend's teenage daughter was alone in the house at the time, hence the key in the door. On the Monday LL arrived with a copy of the tenancy agreement and entered using her key, again without knocking. On this occasion she cornered my friend upstairs with her baby waving the tenancy agreement and declaring that it was her house and she could enter whenever she wanted. Someone else called the police during this as LL would not leave nor let my friend and baby downstairs.

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